Before the kickoff of Project Inclusion, an Army-wide initiative to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command had already begun local efforts to address concerns and achieve similar goals.
Steps are currently underway to stand up AMCOM’s Employee Diversity Board; its stated mission is “to equip AMCOM with ways to develop and foster a culture of inclusion that builds upon diversity and maintains equity within the command.”
“It's taken us some time to get it going,” said Kara Carter-Price, AMCOM Equal Employment Opportunity director. “But it was something that was already in the works.” She added that AMCOM Commanding General Maj. Gen. Todd Royar had already begun hosting lunches to hear from employees.
The EDB will aim to provide a forum for civilian employees to quickly identify and assist with real-time solutions to diversity, inclusion, and equity issues across the command at Redstone Arsenal. The board will complement the AMCOM Diversity Committee, which comprises leadership.
“Our goal is to create and maintain an environment of diversity and inclusion,” said Don Nitti, AMCOM deputy to the commanding general and chair of the Diversity Committee. “This starts with fostering open and candid discussions and providing employees multiple avenues to voice their concerns and offer recommendations for improvement. The Diversity Committee and Employee Diversity Board are just two of a number of initiatives that we hope move us toward that end state."
“Listening boards such as the EDB provides another voice for the voiceless when addressing workplace climate issues commanders would like to hear,” said Jared Tarver, AMCOM Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention coordinator.
The EDB will be made up of nonsupervisory employees nominated by their peers from each AMCOM directorate and/or organization. Once established, the board will meet via Microsoft Teams or face-to-face with face coverings and physical distancing in place. The first order of business will be for board members to nominate and select a chairperson and a secretary, who will keep the minutes of the meetings to ensure topics/issues are captured for the record. Finally, the board will develop a charter and develop rules and norms that dictate how business will be conducted.
Carter-Price and Tarver will lead the board. As facilitators, the two will not be a part of the board, but will be on hand to provide information while members broach the topics at hand.
Carter-Price is certified in alternative dispute resolution and civil treatment and has 10-plus years of equal employment opportunity experience with a master’s level social work background. Tarver is certified in victim advocacy and civil treatment, has 10 years of human resources experience and is a master resilience trainer – all skills that will prove useful to the EDB and Diversity Committee.
“I hope to see a board similar to the EDB manifested throughout RSA and, possibly, all federal service components,” Tarver said.
The EDB members should feel free to discuss anything they see as relevant and know that all issues brought forward to the AMCOM Diversity Committee will be done so without attribution. “That's the key benefit,” Carter-Price said. In short, Tarver and Carter-Price will take the EDB’s agreed-upon issues to the Diversity Committee, but no identifying details will be included.
“There’s no [fear of] retribution and they're not identified; they're not singled out,” Carter-Price continued. “There is no focus on the individual – it's more about improving the command.”
“It will allow employees the avenue and platform to bring issues forward and provide input for ways to resolve them,” Carter-Price said. “My hope for the outcome and the impact is that they will become an integral part of what we do.”
Representatives from American Federation of Government Employees Local 1858 union will be invited to attend EDB meetings.
Carter-Price provides oversight of Corpus Christi Army Depot and Letterkenny Army Depot. She has engaged EEO managers to institute similar programs at the depots.